One of the joys of working in a team is the interactions with other people. As testers we are more often than not part of a team, even if sometimes that team is simply us and a developer (I stopped believing in the code fairy quite early on).

One of the biggest time sinks of working in a team is the interactions with other people. I’ve written before about how I strive for conciseness, completeness, consistency, clarity and correctness in written communications and I try to do the same verbally too.

If you can keep your meetings tight, people will thank you for it, will attend more often and contribute more effectively. Agendas help a lot. Benevolent dictatorship helps more. Not saying stuff for the sake of it, or repeating yourself or – worse – other people or – worse still – what other people said in the same meeting helps a great deal.

The 5 Cs for writing can and do apply to conversations but because I’m not typically delivering a lengthy monologue in those situations, I use an additional heuristic: say just what you need to say and then shut up.  The context overrides other considerations. For example, if it’s clear another participant has important things to say, then you may not need to deliver all of your information. Of course, repetition or rephrasing can be necessary or helpful, for example to reinforce a point or ensure clarity and common understanding, but you can let the dialogue and context indicate where that is too.

Years ago I wrote a song that comes into my mind when I’m at the point where listeners have probably tuned me out:

I read an interview with Wire
It asked them why
that they did not
write some longer songs
“Ah we just play along
‘til the words run out
then stop.”

It took as long to play as to say. Which is about right.